Rubber Renditions

Adeola Balogun's exploration into the infinite patterns and forms of rubber tyres

By The Centenary Project

Used tyres in LagosThe Centenary Project

Discarded ally

There is a myriad of discarded objects seeking the intervention and attention of human vehicular mode through which the encapsulated potent energy in them can be properly channeled.

As a non-biodegradable material, one of these objects, pneumatic tyres, have become prevalently ubiquitous in our environment and, sometimes considered a menace. However, they have served me as a veritable ally in this exploratory body of works.

Adeola Balogun at work by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Rubber experiment

This exhibit is about an artist experimenting with tyres, not only because of its abundant availability as a non-bio-degradable material, which is a plus for a potential sculpture medium, but as a pointer to the irony of lack amidst plenty which, according to him, "is the order of the day in our society."

Infinite patterns and forms

Tyre sculpting in Nigeria was elevated by renowned sculptor, Adeola Balogun who uses old, discarded tyres to create representations of images around him. He would cut the tyres up into strips, and weave them together using all sorts tools such as axe, cutlass, knife, angle-grinder etc.

His tyre renditions are always mixed media, which means that he uses the tyre along with other materials to create the artworks. He started exploring this method in 2009 and has had three solo exhibitions with this material.

Saxophonist by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Contrasting Colours

His change of mindset from lack to abundance was underscored by the contrast between the traditional black colour of tyres and the brighter colour (gold, silver and copper) of the other materials he employed in some of the works.

Black rubber, black metal

Other times, the black colour is made to blend with metal add-ons. Industrial glue was sometimes applied to adhere to materials such as plywood board, while none conventional techniques are applied in other instances.

Saxophonist by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Violinist by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Diverse patterns and forms

Many of his works take advantage of the different patterns on the tread of tyres by cutting, shredding and integrating them to generate desired forms and patterns as a visual language.

Music and harmony

The apparent harmony of the shredded tyres with other materials he employed was often represented in his works as the harmony often associated with music performed using different instruments.

Male Drummer by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

The contingency of life

Balogun's preference for representations of music and dance in his works is only coincidental. However, it is also a reflexive portrayal of the positive attitude that contrasts with the contingency of life symbolised by the tyres he uses to create them.


Balogun's the body of work represents a metaphor that points to extremism in respect of poverty vis-avis riches in the society as symbolized by discarded tyres and precious metals such as copper, brass and stainless steel.

The black asset

This radial black rubber, which happens to be automobile’s only point of contact with the road, is discarded indiscriminately once its service year is over. Thus, it becomes a nuisance to the environment but an asset to the artist.

Male Dancer by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

The "re-tyred" worker

Balogun relates the life of civil servants in Nigeria to that of tyres: "Having spent the better part of their lives serving the government, they are re-tyred after serving for many years. For most of them, life continues in some other form.

The 're-tyred' worker

Re-tyring is very much like being discarded since the workers might not get their dues when due. Consequently, the retirees might become liability and nuisance to the family and the society at large.

Basket Weaver by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Form change: shoe cobbler

Like discarded tyres, they change their roles by taking up menial jobs to earn a living and to feed their families. For example, some become shoe cobblers.

Blacksmith by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Form change: Blacksmith at the furnace

Corn Roaster by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Form change: The corn seller

The Bull by Adeola BalogunThe Centenary Project

Taking the bull by the horns

The use of tyres sculptures has deeper implications for Adeola Balogun. For him, it is gratifying to know that we all posses the ability to change our situation for the better, no matter the level of degeneration.

Taking the bull by the horns

Adeola Balogun believes it is high time the people look inward, because the power within them is more than enough to conquer their perceived challenges.

Credits: Story

Curator: Patrick Enaholo / Emem Akpabio
Photographs: Adeola Balogun / Ralph Eluehike
Text: Adeola Balogun / Patrick Enaholo

© The Centenary Project

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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